Midnight Rambler

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: February-March & October-November 1969
Recording locations: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England; Sunset Sound & Elektra Studios, Los Angeles, USA
Producer: Jimmy Miller        Chief engineer: Glyn Johns
Performed onstage: 1969-73, 1975-76, 1989-90, 1995, 1999, 2002-03, 2005-07, 2012-14

Line-up:

Drums: Charlie Watts
Bass: Bill Wyman
Electric guitar: Keith Richards
Slide electric guitar: Keith Richards
Vocals: Mick Jagger
Harmonica: Mick Jagger
Congas: Brian Jones
 

Did you hear about the midnight rambler?
Everybody got to go
Did you hear about the midnight rambler
The one that shut the kitchen door?

He don't give a hoot about warning
Wrapped up in a black cat cloak
He don't go in the light of the morning
He's split the time the cockerel crow

Talking about the midnight gambler
The one you've never seen before
Yeah, I'm talking about the midnight gambler
Did you see him jump the garden wall?

He's sighing down the wind so sadly
Listen and you'll hear him moan
Yeah, well I'm talking about the midnight gambler
Everybody got to go

Yes

Did you hear about the midnight rambler?
Well, honey, it's no rock and roll show
Well I'm a-talking about the midnight gambler
Yeah, the one you've never seen before

Don't do that
Don't do that, don't do that
Don't do that, don't do that
Don't do that, don't do that
Don't do that, don't do that
Don't do that, don't do that
Don't do that, don't do that
Don't do that, don't you do that
Don't you, don't you do that
Don't do that
Don't do that
Don't you do that

Don't you do that
Don't you do that
Don't you do that
Don't you do that
Don't you do that
Don't you do that
Don't you do that
Don't you do that
Don't you do that

Don't you do that
Don't you, don't you do that
Don't you, don't you do that
Don't you, don't you do that
Don't you, don't you do that
Don't you, don't you do that
Don't you, don't you do that
Don't you, don't you do that
Oh don't do that
Oh don't do that
Oh don't do that
Oh don't do that
Oh don't do that
Oh don't do that
Oh don't do that
Oh don't do that
Oh don't do that
Oh don't do that 

Well you heard about the Boston...
Honey, it's not one of those...
Well talking about the midnight...
The one who closed the bedroom door

I'm called the hit-and-run, rape-her-in-anger
The knife sharpened, tippytoe
Or just that shoot-'em-dead, green bell jangler
You know, the one you've never seen before

So if you ever meet the midnight rambler
Crawling down your marble hall
Well he's pouncing like a proud black panther, yeah
You can say I told you so

Well, won't you listen for the midnight rambler, yeah?
Yeah, play it easy as you go
I'm going to smash down all your plate glass windows
Put a fist, put a fist through your steel plate door

Did you hear about the midnight rambler?
He'll leave his footprints up and down your hall
Did you hear about the midnight gambler?
Did you see me make my midnight call?

And if you ever catch the midnight rambler
I'll steal your mistress from under your nose
I'm going easy with your cold fandango
I'll stick my knife right down your throat
Baby, and it hurts
 
 
 
TrackTalk

That's a song Keith and I really wrote together. We were on a holiday in Italy. In this very beautiful hill town, Positano, for a few nights. Why we should write such a dark song in this beautiful, sunny place, I really don't know. We wrote everything there - the tempo changes, everything. And I'm playing the harmonica in these little cafés, and there's Keith with the guitar.
- Mick Jagger, 1995


Keith and I went to Italy, and Keith had this idea for Midnight Rambler, so we just started changing the tempos within the tune. Melodically it remains the same thing, it's just a lot of tempo changes. We worked on it with acoustic guitar and harmonica, just jammed it, went through the tempo changes and had it all organised by the time we had to record it for Let It Bleed.
- Mick Jagger, 2003


When we did Midnight Rambler, nobody went in there with the idea of doing a blues opera, basically. Or a blues in four parts. That's just the way it turned out. I think that's the strength of the Stones or any good band. You can give them a song half raw and they'll cook it.
- Keith Richards, 2002


Midnight Rambler is a Chicago blues. The chord sequence isn't, but the sound is pure Chicago. I knew how the rhythm should go. It was in the tightness of the chord sequence, the D's and the A's and the E's. It wasn't a blues sequence, but it came out like heavy-duty blues.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)


Usually when you write you just kick Mick off on something and let him fly on it. Just let it roll out and listen to it and start to pick up on certain words that are coming through and (Midnight Rambler's) built up on that. A lot of people still complain they can't hear the voice properly. If the words come through it's fine, if they don't, that's all right too because anyway they can mean a thousand different things to anybody.
- Keith Richards, 1971


That was done on a full-bodied, Australian electric-acoustic, f-hole guitar. It kind of looked like an Australian copy of the Gibson model that Chuck Berry used. I played it on Gimmie Shelter too... It had all been revarnished and painted out, but it sounded great. It made a great record... (I got it f)rom some guy who stayed at my pad. He crashed out for a couple of days and suddenly left in a hurry, leaving that guitar behind. You know, Take care of this for me. I certainly did! But it served me well through the album.
- Keith Richards, 2002


(The middle section is) straight concert tuning. What's always fascinated me is just to have no hand on it (motions with his left hand, indicating a guitar neck). Just to go... as if to just strike the guitar with one hand. (It's j)ust a straight E to D, hammering it off to straight open across and down the way.
- Keith Richards, 1988


I believe things like Midnight Rambler come through better live, because we've extended it more. Sometimes when you record something you go off half-cocked because maybe you haven't ever played it live. You've just written it and you record it. From then on you take it and keep on playing it and it gets different. I remember I was into 12-string bottlenecks then.
- Keith Richards, 1971


The title, the subject, was just one of those phrases taken out of sensationalist headlines that only exist for a day. You just happen to be looking at a newspaper, Midnight Rambler on the loose again. Oh, I'll have him.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)


(Violence, it's) just something that's there, that's always been there. Some kind of chemistry. Mick and I can really get it on together. It's one way to channel it out. I'd rather play it out than shoot it out.
- Keith Richards, 1971


(T)hat song's a gas, and I dig to play it. It's when the audience decides to join, that's when it really knocks you out.
- Keith Richards, 1971


It is an interesting song to do. A three-part blues piece with different tempos. With the blues you don't normally get any changes, you know, so it's quite an original idea.
- Mick Jagger, 2014



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